Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hunt for South Africa's Holy Grail

Dear Sipho Pityana, Businessman and dreamer,
          Help! Help! We need everybody’s help to find our country’s Holy Grail.
          But what chance have we got when some of the best brains in South Africa like you believe that a myth will rid the country of its chronic corruption.
          The Constitutional Court (Concourt) has decided that it was wrong for the Government to disband the special crime-busting unit the Scorpions in 2008 when it looked as though its sting was getting much too close to the tail of our President Jacob Zuma.
          It was probing a bribes scandal involving Zuma and his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik.  Shaik got 15 years for his lack of political influence while the case against Zuma was abandoned on some vague grounds that he was being politically persecuted.
          We couldn’t have that could we? That’s how much it pays to have the full backing of the African National Congress.        

          The Government replaced the Scorpions with the more manageable Hawks. And it was this that was unacceptable the Concourt ruled.
          The reason for its judgment, as you know, was that the Hawks were insufficiently insulated from political influence in its structure and functioning. It gave the Government 18 months to produce another independent investigating unit as if the Scorpions had been so influence free.
          Eighteen months? That’s African time with a capital A because nothing can be done now in this country of ours least of all in legal circles?
          The court’s misguided concept is being perpetuated by the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, which you founded. Writing in the Sunday Times you revealed that this Council believes that corruption can be solved by having a statutory agency free of political or any other form of influence with civil society involved in the appointment of its leaders.
          Sipho why can’t you realise that this is what fairy tales are made of? Where in the world could you find a group of people that could be that impartial least of all in South Africa?
          It’s nice to dream Sipho but when you wake up you will realise that your concept will never materialise any more than the decision of the Concourt judges.
          All of you are putting the cart before the runaway horse that nobody has yet been able to catch.
          Your Council’s idea is made even more impossible because you say your special unit must be appropriately resourced by the Government with taxpayer’s money. You go on to tell us that there are already a range of agencies with a mandate to investigate acts of corruption but their effectiveness is hampered because they are not dedicated crime busters (You can say that again) and nor are they truly independent.
          You recapped on the fact that our previous National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi was found guilty of corruption and his successor General Bheki Cele has had his honesty questioned by the Public Protector, Thule Madonsela over a dodgy lease for a new police headquarters.
          But all you do is skate round the real problem.
          Our campaign, you say, is intended to marshal the courage, principle, selflessness; energy and sacrifice that saw us not only bring down apartheid, but also establish a constitution that is a bulwark against arbitrary rule, abuse of power, corruption and criminality.
          More fine words Sipho, but as Chairman of this new Council of yours shouldn’t you be leading the way by showing a lot more of that courage that you talk about?
          Be realistic. That Constitution of ours that some misguided souls say is the best in the world has done sweet tweets to stop the abuse of power, corruption and criminality in our country.
          And you haven’t got the courage to openly name that runaway horse that I was talking about.  
          How ironic is this? The leader on the same page as your article in the Sunday Times told us that the court ruling was passed by a narrow majority with the Chief Justice, Sandile Ngcoboappointed by Zuma to the job in 2009writing a minority opinion against the ruling.
          The paper also told us, this trickle of justice might not be sufficient to reverse the tide of corruption, but it is a timely reminder to the powerful that the law still stands above them. As if they care?

          It can’t get much more depressing than that. That trickle is drying up fast.
          So unless we catch the real source of the problem and have it put down we will go on looking for the Holy Grail of an independent investigation unit forever. And for those who don’t want to face it the PROBLEM IS THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS GOVERNMENT.
          Yours respectfully
          Jon, a Realist who likes to call corruption what it actually is and in South Africa its name is the ANC.

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